by Beth Jinks

“Twignity” is not something that I’ve just made up, I’m no neologist. It is simply a word blend of “Twitter” and “dignity” and I think it’s a great word to describe current happenings throughout the whole social network spectrum.

This idea is a fairly current one for me, because seemingly people seem to be losing their twignity all over the place. Whether it’s a tweet from an ordinarily serious lecturer that says: “Inn thej pubb, seoooo wanjkerefd” (true story), or a Facebook status update from a friend that says: “Off to Tesco to buy lettuce for my new salad diet”.

I’ve never been one to pander to the demands of social networks. By this I mean – when Facebook asks me every minute “what’s on your mind” I generally don’t tell it. However some people seem to see this an an open invite to spill their guts, and every detail of their personal life to a list of 1600 ‘friends’ who they barely even know and probably haven’t even met.

This has always confused me. Why on earth would you tell everybody about every waking thought that’s in your head? I’m not talking here about the people (like me, I hope) that post a status one or two times a week that’s usually something funny, or an inquiry, or an announcement. I’m talking about the people that update their status incessantly. The kind of posts that I’m talking about are the ones that are cryptic, and are just begging for attention from people asking “what’s wrong”. And then, what angers me even more, is that the common response from the status-ee is “Oh nothing, don’t worry about it” – Well don’t fling it out into the public domain for people to worry about it then!

I think that status updates and tweets of this nature are doing to friendship groups what violence in films has done to society – desensitising. Surely if someone is constantly yo-yoing from positive to negative posts throughout the day because of the slightest dip like their phone not working or a boost like it being sunny (i.e trivial things) then when something genuinely tragic or amazing happens to them, the people who are meant to be there to support or celebrate, won’t be.

Luke, sees people loosing their social networking dignity as something that is paralleled by bad spelling, grammar and apparent lack of self respect: “The lack of education they show in a developed country with a great schooling system annoys me. The omission of simple spelling and grammar gives a bad representation of the person and all social networks.”

I do agree with him on this. The combination of the nonsensical tweets and status update mixed with the bad spelling and grammar are the things that really grate on me. Everyone who has English as their first language in this country has no excuse for not being able to use that lingo properly. People say that it’s about being individual and standing out from the crowd, but that’s equally as nonsensical because so many people are doing it!

The “individualised” and shortened words that make me laugh the most are the ones that end up having more letters than the original. The other day I think that someone said “maiytee” for “mate”. Just horrific.

I think the real problem for me is that in my opinion Twitter is a professional means of contacting people. It seems almost like a public portfolio that will be looked at by future employers. This doesn’t mean that the stuff that is posted on there is fabricated to form a version of me that I think would be appealing to employers – it just means that the tweets are meant for public consumption by people that don’t know me. My private Facebook is treated differently; but people still see that as a portfolio of their life to show off to everyone else.

(Originally posted on The Pedants on 7th Feb 2012)

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